Updated: Mar 29
One of the most powerful tools a chef has at their disposal is humility. Recently, I could’ve gotten my wife sick by giving her Hummus made from soaked chick peas instead of boiled. Now, I’ve been instructed to do this at other restaurants before and it’s worked out fine. However, I wasn’t aware of the toxins that are still present with ONLY soaking instead of cooking. Have you ever had a feeling like this? Like somehow you think you know what you need to know to eat something in a healthy way? One of the main items I see people have these misperceptions of, are grains, beans and protein starches. Do you know how much water is needed to cook the thousands of kinds of rice?... I don’t either lol but I do understand the general rules of the different TYPES of rice. So join me in this multipart series where I dispel some things you’ve been taught to believe were true and give you tips and tricks to make the most of your proteins, grains and beans. Is all rice to water ratio equal? Does the measurement to your knuckle rule apply to all rice? Can ANY beans be eaten raw? What’s the difference between Kwinoa vs Quinoa? Let's dive in!
Let’s start with the staple my wife and many others around the world can't do without. By many others, I mean mainly my wife lol she’s told me several times, it doesn't matter what starch is on the plate, if there's no rice, it's not a complete meal. Do you come from one of those cultures? Do you feel ashamed you don't know how much water to put in the pot? Have you burned water?...well that has nothing to do with the topic, I was just wondering lol
According to Wikipedia, Rice is a staple for over ½ of the world. So, What IS rice? I had to answer this question when I decided I wanted to start a Rice Paddy. Rice is actually the seed for some grass species. YEP! For all of you who don’t like wheat grass cause it tastes “too earthy” or you don’t consider yourself a rabbit, you’ve been eating grass THIS WHOLE TIME!
It’s the 3rd cultivated crop world wide, so don’t feel bad. We ALL have eaten grass at least once in our lives. Though Rice Paddies are what most people picture when they imagine how rice is grown, it actually serves more of a practical purpose vs the rice needing all of that water. The water deters vermin, pests and weeds. The paddies are usually only flooded after the seedlings are planted. China and Africa are the home of the oldest rice grains, however, China is the first thought to have domesticated it. They are the main ones thought to be responsible for the migration and trade that made it the desired food it is today!
Just to give you the idea of the scope of what we’re dealing with, there are over 40,000 Local varieties of Indica Rice (Asian) alone! However out of those countless varieties and species, they typically fall under a handful of categories. Short, Medium and Long grain Rice. The shorter the grain, the more starch it has. This makes short and medium grain rice perfect for desserts. The longer grains are more likely used for more savory dishes, although some medium is used for this as well.
Famous Short Grain Rice
Famous Medium Grain Rice
Famous Long Grain Rice
Short Grain Brown Rice Zushi Rice (Japanese)
Arborio Valencia Carnaroli Bomba Black Rice Calrose Rice
Basmati Rice Wild Rice Jasmine White
SHORT GRAIN RICE
With such stars as Sushi and Rice Pudding under it’s belt, short grain rice is just one you can’t deny. This particular grain has a lot of starch, so it tends to stick together which gives it it’s signature sticky description. Due to the amount of starch, you’re going to want to wash this rice several times, otherwise you’ll just end up with a very unpleasantly textured Mochi (Japanese Rice Cake). This is a flexible rice that can be cooked several ways. You can use a rice cooker, pot, an Instapot or slow cooker. Definitely don’t recommend this one for the oven. The starch content can easily cause it to burn or overcook if you don’t keep a proper eye on it. Each type of short grain has specifics in cooking, however, the general way to cook it should be as follows. I’m going to describe the stove top method since the other options vary far greater depending on make, model and age of equipment.
An aside: Brown rice WILL take longer to cook than White due to the husk still being attached!
1. Rinse Rice by pouring into a vessel and adding cold water and vigorously agitating it until the
water gets cloudy. Dump repeat until water generated by agitation is almost clear, typically 3 or 4 times. If you have a strainer, you can use that and agitate in a similar fashion. However, since the water has to be continuously running in this method, it’ll definitely use more water.
2. Now that the rice is washed, add to a sauce pot and add an equal amount of water to rice.
3. Cover and heat to boiling over high heat.
4. Reduce the heat to low and cook until water is absorbed.
5. Turn off the heat and let sit for 10 minutes covered before fluffing.
MEDIUM GRAIN RICE
Medium grain rice, just like middle children, is bit more complex depending on which one you’re cooking. For instance, Arborio can take a LARGE amount of liquid. Medium grain brown rice needs to be rinsed while rinsing black rice will just cause it to disrespect you.
1. Black rice is generally cooked with a 2/1 water to rice ratio. Combine in a pot, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer until all of the water is absorbed. Let stand for 10 mins, then fluff.
2. Medium Grain Brown Rice, you cook using the pasta method, this means typically 3/1 Water to rice ratio. Rinse this rice until clear. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add rice, cooking uncovered. This rice will cook floating in the water until al dente. Drain, and then add back to the pan off the heat. Let sit for 10 mins, fluff.
3. Arborio, though fairly straight forward, the traditional way can be a bit tricky due to the
amount of starch inside. Many people scorch this one, so be careful. For this one, you want about a 4/1 stock to rice ratio. One other key to keep in mind, you may not need ALL of the stock, it depends on the rice itself. So, in a preheated pot/skillet, add some olive oil. Once the olive oil has a rippled reflection, add diced shallots or onions and garlic. Lightly sweat (Cook until slightly clear), then add your uncooked rice. Move the rice around until covered by the oil, deglaze by adding some white wine, and then add ¼ of your hot stock and salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat until most of the liquid is absorbed. You’ll know it’s time to add more liquid when there’s a small puddle of liquid left on the top of the rice. Add another quarter of the stock. Repeat until the rice stops absorbing the liquid. Typically this happened either during the 3rd addition or during
the 4th. Once all the liquid needed has been added, you can turn off the heat and add some parmesan cheese. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
4. Calrose Rice is by far the easiest medium grain rice to cook. This is typically the type of white rice that’s famous for the ability to use your fingers to measure. So start by rinsing the rice 2-3 times or until it runs clear. The ratio to this one is 1 1/3 to 1. You’ll find, that if you add the rice, put the tip of your middle finger to the top of the rice and add water until it touched the first joint
on the tip of the middle finger, it equates about 1 and 1/3 water. How is this possible?! The world may never know lol. Either way, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until water is absorbed. Typically this is about 16-20 minutes. Let stand for about 10 mins covered, then fluff and eat.
LONG GRAIN RICE
Long grain rice is fairly straight forward no matter which grain you’re using. This is the one you’ll most likely be buying many times. We like easy right? lol
1. Basmati, Jasmine and standard white rice are typically cooked the same way. The ratio is
1 ½ / 1 water. You rinse the rice in a strainer until the water runs clear. Bring water to a boil and stir in the rice. Cover and reduce to a simmer for 16-20 mins. Turn off the heat and let sit covered for 10 mins, fluff and enjoy
2. Wild Rice is another easy win. Because of the husk still being attached, this one is cooked a bit differently. Think pasta when cooking it. The ratio is 3/1 for this one. Bring the water to a boil, and then add the rice. Some people add a bit of butter and seasonings at this point too. I recommend waiting until the end so you don’t change the thickness of the water too much and mess up your cooking time. Also remember oil and water don’t mix, so it’s very hard for the butter at least to get into the rice when it’s surrounded by water. Either way, cook the rice until the brown husks “explode”, exposing the inner white portion of the grain. This can take as long as 30-45 mins on average. The time is dependent on the grain mix making up your wild rice blend.
Now, with 1000’s of grain varieties of rice out there, this is by NO means a comprehensive guide. These are the basic stove top ways to cook many of the TYPES of rice you’ll run across though. If you’re using a rice cooker, oven or pressure cooker or other method, try CLICKING HERE to get further instructions of these methods. The water ratio will typically change depending on the equipment. Well it’s been fun, but I’m sure you’re hungry to get started after reading all of that lol
I’ll let you get to it!